The city’s public safety commissioner will be taking on a second major administrative position this spring, but he said it will still be easier than his previous job running the state police.
In May, Commissioner Wayne Bennett will become “deputy mayor” or “adviser to the mayor” while still overseeing the Police and Fire departments, Mayor Gary McCarthy said.
Bennett’s $125,678 salary will not change, and he will continue to receive his state pension.
The move comes because Director of Operations William Winkler is retiring. Bennett will take on many of Winkler’s tasks, although McCarthy said he will still hire someone to take the director of operations title. That person will be below Bennett and will be announced in early May, McCarthy said.
The mayor said Bennett would handle issues involving multiple departments or joint efforts with outside groups.
“I’m looking to have him coordinate some of the stuff where we’re doing the enforcement — we did bars, we’re doing corner stores,” he said. “Wayne has that ability to coordinate the various departments within the city.”
He also wants Bennett to work on reorganizing the HOMES program, using the proposals drafted by students at the Union Graduate College.
He wants Bennett to use the students’ ideas to “beef up” the program, he said.
“I’m just looking at his skill set to manage these things,” he added.
Bennett said he would have no difficulty juggling police, fire and city administration tasks.
He plans to continue working from 6:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. or later every weekday, as he has for years as public safety commissioner. The only difference, he said, is whether he’ll be at the police station or City Hall on any given day.
“I’m used to working long hours,” he said. “It’s not going to be a huge modification.”
He added that he didn’t seek the job. McCarthy asked him.
“I told him I’d be more than happy to help him out,” Bennett said.
But he minimized the new duties.
“I’m going to be wearing some hats,” he said.
Bennett became commissioner after retiring from the top post in the New York State Police, for which he receives a pension. Normally, a pensioner must get a waiver before taking another job, but that is not needed after age 65. Bennett is now 68.
He said running two of the main administrative positions in the city is still not as difficult as running the state police.
“Although my days here can be busy, it doesn’t remotely approach what went on there,” he said.